Home > Media, Middle East, Politics > Rumors of Mubarak’s Death

Rumors of Mubarak’s Death

Marc Lynch writes in Abu Ardvark:

Rumors that Hosni Mubarak had died swept through Egyptian discourse over the last ten days. Unable to squelch the rumors, the Egyptian regime had to resort to releasing (fairly unconvincing) pictures of an alive Mubarak and an interview with Mubarak denying the rumors, and then went on a propaganda offensive accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of spreading the rumors in order to foster instability (it later added Hamas and “Arab media” to the list of conspirators … and, I kid you not, according to al-Ahram is opening an official investigation into the treatment of the rumors by the opposition press).

The best commentary I’ve yet seen comes from Egyptian columnist Hassan Nafaa, who argued that the incredibly rapid spread of the rumor and the tenor of private discussions about the possibility that it was true carried extremely important lessons about the current state of Egyptian politics. The power of the rumor mill testifies to the lack of credibility of the official media and of the government, since Egyptians clearly did not feel that they could trust the information on offer from those sources. This is not a new story of course, since Egypt’s official media have been in a state of free-fall for quite a while. But as Abdullah al-Sanawi argues this is something quite extraordinary: journalists and citizens and politicians trying to find out if their own President was live were resorting to calling foreign ambassadors. As the official media offered statements devoid of any evidence, which people simply didn’t trust, the story quickly spread to the Arab satellite television stations like al-Jazeera and from there to the foreign media – but they couldn’t get any reliable information out of the regime either. All in all, the episode demonstrates the dangers of a regime’s lost credibility and of a corroded official public sphere.

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Categories: Media, Middle East, Politics
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